Friday, May 17, 2019

I DO THE POLICE IN DIFFERENT VOICES

Look at me
talk to you
without even
having to

tap a clammy
tongue against
the backs
of my teeth—hot stuff

and heavy
too if you
ask me: it's like
language

is a time machine
built out of
a DeLorean—
and then

some skinny
poem climbs inside
that loud suit
of armor—and drives.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

LITTLE TRICK

There are days
I desperately wish to disappear
to transcend the bustling rooms
of the possible
the stodgy furniture of what already is
to become instead
as a huge doorway swinging
open onto nowhere and nothing
an inconspicuous field
a desolate street at midday
a park after dusk
a perfectly empty alley
then I remember—
I live in the city
where there's no such things
as any of those
and just like that
I begin to feel small
and somewhat invisible
and I'm pacified.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

FORGERY

Apropos of the
cold blank
absurdity of the cosmos

the iron in a
blast furnace
gets hotter than the fire;

a few lines
inscribed after the
fact come—with time

to signify more
than the entire
experience.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

WHY I WRITE, MK. II

Because I love to talk—
to give ethereal form
to thoughts

but can't stand the sound
of the yowling
whelps that come out.

Because I once was lost
and embarrassed to
get directions

but now I'm found
and too proud
to acknowledge it.

Because I can never get enough
of the great void opened up
by repetition

but I'm terrified
of that silence which lurks
inside silence.

Because I have
an avian soul—the itinerant brain
of a bird

but the four-
chambered heart
of a nervous old birdwatcher.

Because—how good?
are those little moments
we take time to notice

but—how much better?
must be all those
we miss.

Monday, May 13, 2019

EXPRESSING THE INEXPRESSIBLE

Underneath the impossible glow
of a million-year-old moon

when language first mysteriously
hatched into being

poetry must have emerged
along with it

but still the best way we know
of saying thank you

is to stop
and say thank you.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

EARLY IN THE MORNING

It is a curious thing—early
in the morning
all the world knows
for a moment what it is like
to feel old

and yet early in the morning
we who find ourselves there all together
who rose or did not rise
who chose or did not choose
to awaken in its mild bath of light

we ourselves comprise
the substance of that new arrival
we are the morning—every creature living
every shining thing
is young.





Friday, May 10, 2019

MALCONTENT

Dear downstairs neighbor,
please cut out that racket—
I can hear your dog barking
the clatter of your boot heels
your little children's high pitched squeals
like the raptors from Jurassic Park. 

I constantly smell ridiculous mixtures
of all the elaborate
things you've been cooking—
the french toast in the morning
mingled with stuffed peppers
from last night's dinner
wafting up here while I'm
trying not to eat anything.

It's difficult for me
to focus on my manuscript
to unleash the power of positive thinking
to brood appropriately over my future
when I hear the muffled blare
of Walt Disney's Aladdin—
not to mention all the laughter and
participatory singing.

Come to think of it—
even those lulls
when it's quiet have become
unconstructive; I'm just no good
to fuss over an old poem
dust the undersides of the blinds
clean the whole oven over again

when I'm so distracted by the silence
of your tuckered-out daughters
dozing contentedly
your wife and you sprawled on the
couch drinking wine
or maybe the whole family

down on their knees together
completing some spontaneous
homespun drawing
of what I can only imagine
from upstairs to be
a very respectable freehand circle.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

DRINKING COFFEE AT HOME ALONE

Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru—
each morning at seven, I open
a cabinet door, and I visit these places
which I never plan to visit—
whose names themselves
in the Midwest cornfield of my mind
are shaped like tangles of vines
sticky with dew and slung
among mountains of trees, each heavy
with the ripeness of its fruit.
In the chilly spring dawn, i sit
in the kitchen, trying to sip slowly
and listening for the sounds
of those imaginary mountains.
Naively I wander around destitute farms
laid-back cooperatives with chickens
squawking in the background
mechanistic well-fortified compounds
behind walls of concrete, with red
mansions and black limousines
trying to taste the oppression
of a previous season's tyrannical sun
to inhale the totality of time
and space, to smell the weight
of sheer distance traveled
to feel in my mouth the physicality
of chemistry, the body shape
of a Maillard reaction
trying to extract hope
trying to provoke awakening
trying to prolong flavor
knowing full-well
but not wanting to believe
I will not recall any of it
one small swallow later.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

MORNING ROUTINE

Before dawn each day—
impossibly high
impossibly far away

uncountable
savage blast furnaces
are firing

just to power
the weak light
that yawns through

the kitchen window
by which you like
to sit and sip tea

and thumb through a few
pages of Marlowe
or maybe

sketch a fragment
of your own about
corn flowers—

before the slightest flutter
of one lid
of one eye

pitiless factories
galactic in size
all working triple-overtime

toward an infinite quota
completely for free
just to manufacture

those sanitized
unbreakable
I-beams of time

which later you
blithely call the
small hours.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

SOMETHING ELSE TO THINK ABOUT

You'd think we'd recall best
all the places we met,
but it's mostly the coming
and going we remember—

not the 1970s smell of halls,
not the bluish blush of instrument
panels in the dashes
of nervous cars,
not the cool darkness
pooled inside the movie theaters
or the satisfying
stickiness of their concrete floors;

but the movement of everything—
the swaying of park swings,
the constant velocity
of driving side-by-side so we'd always
age at exactly the same rate,
the steps between us left to take
across the rattling floorboards
of neon gymnasiums.

And then, there's all the other places
we never got the chance to meet,
their colors swirling invisibly
around the contours of our breaths
like odd remnants of dreams—sheer
but opaque, vivid but silent;

how are we supposed to forget
those memories we don't even possess,
which hover like ghosts
in the black voids of windows
outside the foreclosed
mansions of our minds?

How do we explain to ourselves
all those other times
we seem to have met
before we met
for the first time?

Monday, May 6, 2019

JUST KEEP SWIMMING

I think I might be
starting to worry
that the only way
to keep moving forward
is to forget about whatever

I believe I need
and to let it sink in
again every day
by listening
to the firm but generous

voice of my body—
just keep swimming 
just keep swimming
just keep swimming 
don’t try to fix everything.

It's like even when you
don't believe him,
the deliberate cadence
of the TV preacher
still sounds convincing;

or even in a bowl on a
shelf in your dinning
room, that royal blue tang
swimming in circles
still looks pretty natural—

this must be why
when I lie down at night
I'm a hundred and fifty
pound sack
of learned lessons

but when I wake
up the next morning, I rise
like a prophecy—
one which is warning me

I'd better hurry
and get this
down on paper
before I forget—I might
say anything.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

CULT CLASSIC

You know the one where you're
walking casually
down the street on an early
Sunday and you see
the anointed ones

the chosen few
that narrow crowd
of purple tulips
wet with morning dew—

the strangeness
of those brainless creatures
ethereal tubes that cannot move
and yet have found a way
of bending gently

but intently toward
the Sun, their great master
and silent teacher

that cabalistic healer
who looks without seeing
and touches from afar

that bizarre and monstrous
alien star, burning itself to
complete destruction
a billion times a billion
miles from here—

and for a moment you too
feel absolved
released from your previous
angle of inclination

humbled but exalted
by the braveness of color
the stamina of these forms
of water, the pure white immensity
of light

and all of a sudden
you find yourself
on board, transported
along with this blooming communion
of believers

to a place
where you're not
walking down the street anymore

but climbing
sideways
up the slope of a rock

so huge
and strange, it weighs
nothing?

Saturday, May 4, 2019

HERD OF WORDS

Sorrowful how they cower together
each one so afraid to stand all alone
do they recall how they lived before this
do they remember what they used to mean
the ancient throat which first gave birth to them
before toddlers deemed them adorable
and lawyer fathers argued the cash and
put them in cars bound for pitiful yards
worked them and fed them slop and taught them
tricks and left them out all night in cold rain
now they're out to pasture with blank faces
not one of them having ever given
a satisfactory explanation
of the facts—only here and there one weak
little drop from its own sour perspective.


Friday, May 3, 2019

RETREAT

Most vacations are so exhausting
they're hardly worth the trip—
Edens turn to nightmares
and the logistics of wanderlust
are boring as reading
those Old Testament bible chapters
in which staying begot leaving 
and motion begot turbulence

but far and away the most grueling
excursion I've ever undertaken
involved my staying once
in the exact same place
for as long as I could stand
to ignore—everything else in the universe
plainly
continuing to move.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

HOW TO SING

All the weakest sounds
of things—

faint sizzle
of a dwindled candle

subtle breathing of the newborn
leaves

tarnished old bell
feebly repeating
the only note it knows—

listen
unceasingly—everything
teaches.


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

MOMENT

Wild and untamable though this
creature is
I know

I want it
I want it
I want it

I long to hold it
and give it a name

I connive to ride
on its slinky bare back

I'm desperate to own this
one-of-a-kind specimen

I have to show
it off—or no
I need to keep it
locked inside

to feed it keep it
quiet and delicate-
ly reorganize
my whole apartment around it

deaf to its fuming racket
blind to the swiftly mounting cost

how long have I burned
with this ephemeral fire

I feel as though
I've always known it

I'm certain I
will always know it

and in knowing it so long I fear
I've lost it.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

SANCTUARY

While it rains
and rains
putting the alley sparrows
and the cardinal who sings in the
park out of work
I am grateful
to be employed at all
let alone so gainfully
building a vast new city
of expressivity
or at least a whole district
of rhetorical churches
or at least a neat
row of simple
dwellings made of words
or at least
adequate shelving
in the dry narrow galley
kitchen of my mind
for those
birds to perch on.

Monday, April 29, 2019

AVOCADO TOAST

Buttered bread
is buttered bread—
someone's
charged you double

for the recherché decadence
of assonance instead
of that plebeian
lip-circus of plosives

charged you triple
for a congruently
smoothed-out fat on a
charred bumpy carb

charged you quadruple
and you
have paid it—now who
is this asshole?

Friday, April 26, 2019

POEM FROM LAST NIGHT

Open one eye
to the drool-blotted paper

to the goldfish swimming
through the weak light of morning
in its sterile spheroid bowl;

see how it moves, always
in the same direction—always turning
away
from something.

No wonder—
you so often presume
to be riding

all night
across the subtle breadth
of some
profoundly smooth corner

and wake up
confused to be
right where you were.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

SO FAR

I have stayed inside today.
Like the nimbus
cloud sliding
sluggishly by my
living room window
which has no idea
what its true shape is
or where on earth it
came from—I too
am having a hard time
with beginning
with knowing I was born
with picturing
the ocean—all its
unnamable colors
which nonetheless must exist
which have always existed
which
even now must be
reaching blind in the wind
to rustle a few leaves
outside this window
as if it had my next breath
in mind, as if
it had us all completely
surrounded.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

UNLIMITED ENGAGEMENT

In the universe's world-renowned
downtown cultural arts center,
time is not even a spectator.
Time's just a pillar.

And although distance
attends regularly
and velocity is a major donor,
neither plays an instrument.

But rhythm
sure does. In fact,
rhythm is the star vocalist,
and guess what—its larynx

is us: you and me
and our old high school clique
vibrating ceaselessly in
and out of sync with one another.

Eternity, however, still has the best
seat in the hall, not to mention
the clearest perspective among the
whole orchestra;

so we've all
kind of decided—by default,
it's the only thing really fit
to conduct us.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

FUNCTIONING AS INTENDED

Once liberty bells
as huge and everlasting
as the sort their great
grandfathers and their commanding
officers intended

finally got swinging
hard enough and went
peeling out blind
from the amber waves to the seashores
in all four directions

the freedom they unleashed
was so complete, the
new spaces created by their resonant pressure
were so perfectly empty, so ubiquitous

that no child
who came along nine months later
could even tell the difference.

They grew up confused
about who wrote which protest songs,
forgot the significance
of the betta fish brooding
alone in his undetectable tank water—

and later, one or two
even scolded their own toddler
for not understanding

that they way
she construes the fish's
world is all wrong

and that those special corrective
lenses they bought her
to help her see it better
cost well over three hundred dollars.

Monday, April 22, 2019

TIME LAPSE

Actually, time
would never really lapse—
time is too clever
and too quick for that.

Actually, it's just you
and me—losing little bits of it
grabbing coffee,
breaking up, falling

down drunk, signing
contracts, planting trees, eating
pizzas (topped
with hot dogs, once) in front of TVs;

and not often enough
a few lazy photographs, not taken
by either one of us
to whichever abandoned photomat.

Actually, it's just
my trusty built-in camera
running out of batteries, it's only
your imperfect lenses

whose apertures
like to close at random
or else open halfway, then stop,
in between which

the Giza pyramids
seem to get bulldozed
by erosion, one
by one, the great cathedrals

all groan
and collapse—into
celebrated museums, with inglorious
gift shops.

UNRUNG BELL

O tacit metal
o infinite odds
o fire without color, brightness, or smell

o shapely goddess
of fictive music; I hope you never tell
us a hint of the riddle—don't even nod.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

THE CRUELEST MONTH

     What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
     Out of this stony rubbish?
     -T.S. Eliot 

Must be April—when the
daffodils smile
and wave at you
guileless from across
the new sod,
the puckered tulips' gentle
nodding feels strangely
contagious,
even the frowzy dandelions
all seem to curtsy
as you promenade past;
but still, those bony
old sticks of rose bushes
just stand there—
stern as queen mothers,
bloodless as witches—
to puncture your confidence
and berate you for all this
lazy perambulating
with their thorny twisted
middle fingers.

Friday, April 19, 2019

RENTED ROCKS

On Mackinac Island
there's a small art museum.
It consists almost entirely
of maps of the region.

Perhaps this is fitting
as maps are best appreciated as
the shadowy abstract
expressions they are. Functional

as the cardboard
display models in the adjoining toy
and gift store, and accurate
the way a cave painting would be

misshapen as the clay
grave markers
dotting the perimeter
of the cart path out back—

they serve a curiously
chimerical purpose
in a world this ageless, this self-
contained and total.

For a few dollars, though
trickles of visitors
fleeing the sun
will stumble in and frown at these

reasonable parchments all afternoon
looking, as the cartographers
were, for measured answers to
confounding questions—

how many words
for turtle shell were there
before the trappers got here

what were the taxes
on those limestone bluffs
before they were feted

with military canons, then
missionary houses, then finally
gold-roofed summer apartments

how far does the lonely
wind off the straits carry

what color—really
is Lake Huron water?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

HORMESIS

What is this?—the church-sick
people ask, glowering out
their high-rise kitchen
windows on an Easter morning.
Long ago, they were promised
a big deal—
but what they get now
is the distant sound
of a few mellow bells tolling
pastel colored light
and the very small fact
of a cup of tea left out
on the table from last night;
they get last night's rain
still bunched up like grapes
in the Sweetgum branches
and those ghostly dry marks
on the asphalt underneath
where the widowed neighbor's car
was recently parked.
What access
does this barest perception
of objects grant them
into the nature of
possible worlds? Heaven
might be everywhere
but it's far too small
to ever be entered.
Still, are they prepared
to surrender
and let it enter them instead
one line,
one slow tendril, one poetic
spore at a time?
And is that rhizomatic action
fast-acting enough
to inoculate them? To teach
their blind bodies
how to bounce back, how, at last
to save themselves?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

FEELING WORK

Pay close attention—and
what looks at first
like youthful exuberance

is later unmasked
as a protracted stubborn
teenage phase

what seems like contentment
is only contempt
for the hard labor of expectation

often when we wish we were
somebody else, we will say so
only in the third person

or else
unconsciously sub-in
the word someplace instead

whenever I can't make
a feeling work, for instance
I'm quick

to punch it up with
rhymes, aphorisms, clever
turns of phrase

and those I can't be with
because they need love
kindness, displays of affection

I do my best to replace
with machines
which need simpler things

such as—service
maintenance
preservation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

DIMINUENDO

After around five
o'clock, six, at least
seven—comes the sound

not of silence, per say
but the rush of city
traffic going down

trading places, maybe
with a dawn river rising
somewhere in Myanmar.

As today's newly
minted flowers, now drowsing
in the heavy dusk

and for whose
inaugural yawn there were
no witnesses

so too, stooped shadows
have mysteriously gathered
under the tall door frames

two, three, at least
four hairs grown whiter,
perhaps to match that

formidable peak
of the tallest mountain
in Nepal.

By eight o'clock,
one by one, the robins'
last calls are

disappearing,
and you and I
must now listen softly

to each other's
music in the
dark for a while.

Monday, April 15, 2019

GRADUAL

Whether or not you're
there to notice
first thing in the morning
there is mist—

low on cold hills
always somewhere in the distance
outside your door
in between the city you live in
and the rest of the
world which purportedly exists

blue as the first churchbells'
dull round ringing
still lying heavy in its furrowed beds
shrouded by mazes
of dark woods, and dreaming—

just as you were a minute ago—
of being

touched by warm light
made gradually
unafraid, and rising

to become the entire
air one more time.

Friday, April 12, 2019

SPEED OF LIGHT

late
morning
light hitting
and quick out of
bed and out of coffee
and out of breath running
meditation medicine buzzing
through the dog park and shower
for distraction open up the computer
photo of a black hole on google so godlike
GIF-like historic and a-historic all at the same
time separate tab open shoot quick email to Xfinity
then into the beyond look got to get where I am going
so let's pull out and check the smartphone one more time
to be sure there is still time or speaking of beyond, let's pull
out the smartphone one more time to be sure—time is still there.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

DIRGE

Forgetful as I am
in the space between 

movements 
I've had time

to memorialize 
the post-its 

the photos
the fish tacos

the Dr. 
Mario—all of it.

Forgetful 
as I am—and spent 

every day I wake 
I recommit 

I repurchase 
what was known

by knowing it again
alone.

I say it in my own 
voice now (since 

this is still how 
I listen best):

everything we were 
or weren't 

was melody 
or rhythm.

Anything we did 
or didn't—

different fingerings
for a chord.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

CLOTHESLINE METAPHOR

A poem is a clothesline—
full of words washed clean

and hung up to dry
in the cool breeze

of forgetful eternities
and the antibacterial

gaze of virgin sun—
clean of those old usages

circulating for years,
clean of the stains

of school and work
and church—

exotic and bohemian sizes
billowing back and forth

of familiarly styled signifiers,
some nearly shapeless

from the stretching
of centuries, others seemingly

never even worn before—
and some invisible

thread of love, spiked
here and there

with the stiff pins of longing,
holding the whole

gently swaying
apparatus together—an eerie curiosity

to find
in a haunted house's back yard.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

JUVENILIA

Only April—but already
this nascent city
park is a crazy
patchwork quilt

of ratty actual quilts
doublewide
strollers orange
cones and skittering cleats—no picnic

for the tender
blades of
grass underneath—
or the

shy young Narcissus 
pseudonarcissus 
out on the fringes
shivering in dog piss.

Monday, April 8, 2019

BABEL

Maybe it wasn't a typo.
Maybe the world
needs all its
bad people—the sharks
help the minnows learn
how to swim faster;
a pony who's depressed
finally gets
some privacy
and rest; and those
old insecure deities—
who didn't want us
knowing things,
who fused us together,
but still didn't like to
see us touching,
who never even seemed to
want to hear us
talking cooperatively
amongst one another—
are the ones
we have to thank
for towers
and towers of self-
similar books
full of scrappy blind
poems like that one.

Friday, April 5, 2019

MEETING FRIENDS IN OLD CITIES

Anyplace in the world
where now we might
push a few buttons and easily meet
could hardly be
a tormented graveyard.

When you laugh, though
at the size of the soft pretzel vendor's
sidewalk umbrella, you do it
a little uneasily;
and I am having a hard time

ordering bubble tea
because I'm unsure of where I'll
recycle the container. It's nice
but a lot of hard work
not to realize

that all around us, these
enlivening feats
of architectural genius
contain many locked doors that
require special keys—

and that
over and over again, we have to
keep paying
if we wish to remain
contestants in a flimsy game show.

Things are like this now, we say
to each other.
The world isn't fair, we acknowledge.
But walking southwest
as the sun sets spectacularly

on all these svelte
monuments to the gracious dead,
you and I can't help
feeling a little exhilarated—and perfectly free
to imagine that it used to be.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

MIXED FEELINGS

You keep hearing that
the gray light of sunrise—is far
and away the best kind
of light. but you'll never be able

to say it that way.
For that matter—what was it
the fog rolling in
off lake Michigan

was trying to call out to you
this morning? What on earth
did the black coffee afterward
actually taste like?

So many things
you'll never be able to tell
that have to be told anyway.
It's just business 

is usually
how the businessmen
and women put it.
But the poet says—maybe

this is just how it is. Maybe
you only have mixed feelings
about everything
because there's no such thing as

a pure one.
All you can say is—I love this 
too, and wait around
for the emptiness, which

chokes closed the last
line of every poem
to rush in and confabulate
the rest of the details. Maybe it's

pure selfishness
which first drove the mute
soul to dream. Maybe
each new story that's told

is only there to help us
make sense of our own.
Maybe the stars are fading
because it's finally morning.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

EVERYTHING YOU OWN

Isn't it kind of annoying—
you're never alone
whenever you're alone.
All your life
there's been someone
in the other room—
someone with no job
who's always home.
In the late afternoon,
over the muffled blare of 1980s
sitcoms on a television,
you've heard her voice calling—
everything you own, isn't it 
ridiculous—how much does a 
word weigh, what does white
light cost—at the end of the day
everyone loves best 
the things that nobody can.
And when you close
your eyes at night, you often fall
asleep to the sound of her murmuring
over and over, like a
faucet dripping
out in the kitchen:
in this whole universe, 
those titanic engine-room stars
must be the most 
and least real 
things in existence. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

WHAT HAPPENED

God, we are all such assholes—
every one of us, so greedy
for plot lines and the nine o'clock 
news of our lives—so eager

to keep making 
new things occur—

just so that we might 
wear their learned lessons 
sequentially stitched 
across our bodies in public,

like keen-eyed little cub scouts 
obsessed with earning badges.

But how often
do we ever 
walk up to another in our tribe
and say—

sit down, friend, gee whiz, I can 
see it in your eyes, 

I can hear the sirens, blaring out 
there in the dark 
corners of your mind.
Please relax,

take a deep breath, and 
tell me what happened.

Monday, April 1, 2019

THINK POSITIVE

Beautifully, cruelly,
day or night; everything we do—

every discontented
face we make, each false move

and every negative gesture, each hair
we carefully slick back in place,

each border we tug on
and tighten like a bootlace,

each graceless moment spent contorted
in the honorable distraction of prayer,

each cruel guillotine
ceiling fan cycle we bear

before knocking more softly
on that closed bathroom door—

every one of these carefully
choreographed negotiations

is cast in the ambient light
from every single star

which has ever existed
and which ever might.

So I'd think peace on earth—I mean
the real kind—might require

a little more
than the end of war.

Friday, March 29, 2019

WALKING ON THE ROOF OF HELL

If the wretched old parishioner
perpetually glued
to the front pew of your childhood
church told the truth, then you're
walking the dog, pushing
the stroller, jogging around now
and again after work, if you're
lucky—all on the vast rooftop
of the devil's terrible castle.
No wonder, then
you've so often
found yourself bemused
by the air's peculiar
coolness in the morning,
the fecund smell of earth
after rain, the sight of
fresh tulips each spring,
each of them nodding
eagerly as you pass by
again with your daughter
as if to say—we're all part 
of the same thing,
their doomed bulbs aspiring
as ever, toward heaven.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

GROSS

On the sidewalk, while the
coffee kicks in, I'm watching
this sticky-headed robin as he

plucks up and gulps
an whole translucent earthworm
from that post-rain muck

of mulch at the curbside—
and all I itch to do in that moment
is pull out a smartphone

and videotape the situation. I guess
to some juvenile part of me, this act
seems worth preserving;

maybe it makes the little kid inside
me think of dinosaurs, and he's
thrilled and afraid

of his own extinction,
of the roller-coaster thrust
of evolution,

of the drive to achieve
this same kinds of radical
and disgusting satisfaction—

after all, here I am, out here
sketching poems for breakfast;
I have work to do later,

issues to discuss, perimeters
to consider. To him, none of those
matter. He owns

his nakedness and is proud
to wear his predatory hunger.
Or maybe it's because, unlike me, he

was born from an egg
that this marauder doesn't even care
what his own mother might say.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

FINAL WORD

In spite
of everything—

clear skies
tonight: copacetic

moonlight.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

LE MOT JUSTE

Sometimes, I wish I was brave
as these crocus buds not yet waving,
for whom silence is eternity
and everything began yesterday;

instead, I cling to a stubborn faith
in an ancient language
which still can't convey
the religiousness of plain light.

But then, I don't know, I want to say,
somehow, maybe—
a decision you can't make
is one that's already been decided—

like the way the fragile skies
and ladies in gray keep weeping
and weeping each spring, but Jesus
keeps getting crucified anyway.

Monday, March 25, 2019

LAST YEAR'S TREES

Last year's trees—do not come back here
without the intensest kind of hunger,
without their old fear of an everlasting
night, without fully expecting

to lose all of their proud currency
and to stand there again eventually
as blind and petrified monuments
to poverty. And so—neither do we

leave without completely losing
control of every appetite,
without forgetting the smooth feel
of the seeds of our anger, without

laying down those heavy
strapped purses and bulging back
pocket wallets which we use
to conceal and carry the calcified

marginalia of our sorrow—and
somehow, without fully expecting
never ourselves to become the neat plots
of land which will re-feed them next year.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

GPS

Saturday nights in the city,
we catch one another
glancing up

at the glossy wrought iron
black gate of sky,
pretending not to be

hunting for stars—as if
privately trying,
by the vague light of their ailing halos,

to discover some sliver, a half-
buried arrowhead, one milky brittle
fossil of fingernail signaling

those directions we all forgot
together—five, ten, maybe twenty
million years ago.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

ON THE CUSP

Still bare Chicago
sweet-
gums quiver

and reach
to thrust
their talons into

tender blueskies
huge
and thrumming

with
Boeing
747s.

Friday, March 22, 2019

LATELY

these morning walks
are getting dangerous—there, I said it.
There is so much
fierce wind up here

on the high wire of the mind! And I
admit, I am far more eager
than graceful—god knows things
are always a little

less pretty than they appear from
ground-level. But the
truth is, it's still
a perfect miracle—I continue to move

like some
parasitic amoeba would: with my
entire body, one fly-by-night pseudo-
pod at a time.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA

I had a dream. I met
my great great grandfather
on a dismal New England shore.
He was a whaler—

a grim dogged hunter
of grotesque blubber. But now
he'd grown
half-blind and old,

and his industry was dying.
I could see holes
in his gloves, and in between
his teeth as he spoke—

it's so cold, and so dirty
and dark where I'm living;
I only wanted to make soap
and sell my fine candles, he told me.

I tried to console him—
don't loose hope.
It came out—don't give up
control.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

ENERGY CONSERVATION MODEL

Speak, if you
can speak

to the voiceless dog
those vast
tongueless forests—of

human nature
as it is;

or else
keep silent
and just do your best

to imagine it
as it was.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

MESSAGE TO KATE FROM LUCY

i am fine
never knowing
where you go
when you go
only that you do
not go
away for good

just like you
are fine too
once i come
since you knew
when i came
i came to stay
that way too

Monday, March 18, 2019

MOTION CARRIED

Hands plunged
deep in the silver kitchen
sink again, cold

water touches them
and flows, and I think,
or really, don't—

this is all completely
made of holes;

weekends,
subsisting by kind permission
of a temporary
dearth of original ideas—most

weekdays, nesting
in those empty spaces
in the middle of certain vowels
where a certain wind blows

nothing but the chunk
of wind that had just a moment ago
come blowing,

nothing but its own
hollow cartoon
sound of wind-blowing,

nothing but—every suspicion
of its own lack of essence
out of existence.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

INDECIPHERABLE CAUSE

What in this world
have I ever truly loved?
A sunrise
Sunday morning
pancake
batter smell
the plagal
cadence of folk
mass songs
or the lone
crow's call? So
I've heard—the blackbird 
is involved 
in what I know,
but I don't
have the smallest
snowball's
chance in
hell of knowing—what she believes
at all.

Friday, March 15, 2019

KING OF THE CASTLE

There's a storm in the forecast.
There are ideas, and then
there are things. My sadness says—
I am not concerned; I am contented 
looking at old postcard photographs 
of lilacs on Mackinac Island. 

There's a storm on the way.
The windowpane is foggy and quivering
like a kid's lower lip. My lack of belief
regards the horizon and
states flatly—I am not mad, I am
simply unwilling to talk about it.

There's a storm raging outside.
Buckets of rain gush down.
My incredulity is staring
out the window, slack-jawed
at this spontaneous abandon
of prudence and caution.

After a while, my confusion
finally asserts itself
and professes its
now-incontestable feeling
that better place 
than this—must exist.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

LATE-BLOOMING GALAXY

Scientists say—
the middle of something

can't really be measured;
the heart of a process

has a process at its heart,
and you can always

keep zooming in, perpetually
chop it apart

and find smaller pieces.
Which is why,

instead of declaring,
I've always been fine

with just guessing—
that the farther

and farther
out I'd go spinning,

the more dependent I'd grow
on that tiny grain of sand

which lent the pearl
its mystery, that invisible

talisman of confidence
which doesn't exist,

that hole between the lips
of an old first kiss:

my exact center
of mass—

wherever it was
or is.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

DREAM OF AN AFTERNOON

That lakeside park smell—
of jogger sweat
and hot dogs sailing

mildly on the mossy air;
we stop for lunch—
or maybe

just umbrella
stand tea somewhere
verdant in between

the strange alabaster of
pillared museums.
For a beat or two,

we each stop talking,
having balanced
our hollow bodies

so precisely on that
inadequate sliver
of sunbeam straddling

our over-examined
past—and
insensible future.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

COFFEE BREAK

Nothing like
a halfway
decent cup of coffee—
black as the midday
sky is cerulean,
with steam arabesque-ing its
ladders to heaven
above the attendant
and mortally-
still kitchen table—
to make you feel
that you might
somehow, someday,
in another kitchen
far away—
with strange new photographs
adorning its walls
which are
all painted completely
different colors than
these are—
still fall in love
with the life
you have left.

Monday, March 11, 2019

PROBLEM IS

The problem is I love you
with that hunk of me which is
unfinished,

that perfect romantic steak dinner
which is perpetually
still cooking,

with a will that is always
changing and never
was mine to begin with

and lives high up
in the master bedroom of a
dwelling place that is temporary,

a shit apartment, adequate for
a scrawny underfed spirit,
a small body that doesn't physically exist;

no limbs, no tongue
with which to speak
or lick, to taste the dream of air

that floats between the words we say
and those we no longer
say to each other—and

this thing, this stinted love,
this phantom child of us,
I can only guess

must be: so holy, so miraculous
that it still exists, even though it was
never born—at least not yet.

Friday, March 8, 2019

MARCH POEM FROM A HUNDRED YEARS AGO

The city park was finally electrified;
the temperatures had been rising

since early in the morning.
At two, the clouds finally yawned

wide open, allowing fresh sunlight
to come sliding down along

last night's imperious snowdrifts; its
mellow glint, gently blotting out

all of our sharp-cornered thinking.
Everywhere we looked, we saw

nothing—but the bewildering
dignity of very real things.

Every time we paused
to think back, we could recall only

the sound—of laughing
invisible children.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

GENERALLY SPEAKING

Generally speaking,
we are all
the same—whole pieces
who like fitting tight

in those dark parts
of the universe—the ones we've seen
in NASA pictures, in between
the superclusters;

we seem to enjoy
not being seen, while we gaze out
at all the other stars, which seem so
much better than ours;

and we don't mind
feeling helpless—though we do dislike
how awkward
being helpless feels.

But more than anything,
we just love
not talking about it. It's true—once
we were wounded,

but now we don't want
to be healed; all we want is: not to be
wounded in that
exact same place again...eventually.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

TO THE DOGS

Though grateful
to share a scrap of day
or night together,

I wish
I could go where it is
you go after—

mind lying
wide open and redolent
as a shaggy field at high noon;

body parked and idle,
agreeable as
a wood-paneled station wagon

parked in a vacant
lot by the ocean;
mouth hanging so

cleanly open, unpolluted
by words. Sometimes, I call you
but you don't call yourself anything.

Some days I don't call myself
anything either—at least
not anymore.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

MARGIN OF ERROR

It's true what they
say, you know—

all roads
lead to Rome—

which, by
the way, is scheduled—

with every bit
as alluring a mix

of exactitude
and casualness—

to burn
and crack-

up, and hemorrhage
and collapse—

at some
pathetic moment

during
your visit.

Monday, March 4, 2019

ALMOST SPRING POEM

Off the back
porch red railing, a
chip-toothed piano

keyboard of
old icicles dangling

unseen—except
by the sparrows; those
little bits

of lyrical
language about suffering—

thankfully
proclaiming: very little
outside

of their context.
Those things

which help us
suffer less—
we'll eventually have

to stop
abusing them too.

Friday, March 1, 2019

PARLEY

Whenever we sit
together, touching or not
touching, I don't ever wish
to be any wiser
or dumber than I am at that
particular moment—

right, but maybe
wrong; thinking, but then, not
thinking; breathing, or else
waiting for our
next turn to breathe;

we together
animate the spirit—of some
third and
immaculate person,

a perfectly faithful and
loving companion, who wants not,
who alone is capable of wearing
our invisible ring,

and who, finally, is fed and nourished
by every dynamic rhythm
of our being perpetually
a little out of sync—

and to think: all of this hocus-pocus
without the need for any
magic words or provisos or
vestigial ribs.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING

It's a profound moment when
that first morning dawns, in which
everything we once loved is

still dead—and yet, there suddenly
exists simultaneously the impossible
feeling that, one day, it might not be;

that soon, a new season will reanimate
even our even the most hopeless-
ly insubordinate of subjects;

that right now, we are only living
in the breath before the first rusty
note of a new song is sung;

and that, for now, we might
just be content—
to sip coffee inside
draped in lamplight

and to gaze out the window
and witness, with no small
satisfaction—the exhilarating
stillness of objects.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

COMMUTER'S BLUES

Though the journey
is unspeakably long,
every morning
he seems to arrive here

all of a sudden—
as if he were running
from a brushfire closing
in from behind—

to a place that isn't exactly
a remote cave inside
some auspicious
Tibetan mountain;

where not a smudged and
excellent water lily—but
rather, the mass-
produced print of one,

hung behind the single-
serve coffee maker—
marks the location,
instantiates the routine ceremony

of the cut-
off and the dying.
Outside, there's always
the squeal of brakes,

the hoary moan of commuter
trains arriving
exactly on time—
each one, an ardent

horn playing taps 
purely by reflex,
but in some eerily off-
putting minor key.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

LAW OF CONSERVATION

Consider the possibility—
most words don't really
want to be written.

They must be
yanked up here
forcibly, one at a time—like

some monstrously
ugly green pike—
to struggle and flop

across the asphyxiating surface
of our silence's little
cup-shaped boats

from a river which,
on paper, doesn't exist.
Out here, I am a nameless

worker, just like
all the others, toiling alone
in my hollowed-out silence.

Nobody not from that universe
is even listening to this, no one
here watching, or daring

to stop me—damming
up the desert
in order to fish.

Monday, February 25, 2019

MAN FROM ANOTHER PLACE

Here he comes now, the world-
famously untroubled
hot air balloon pilot—

old-time goggles
made of leather, big white
scarf, the whole nine yards—

back down here, one supposes,
for a quick spell on the
drab crowded planet

to do a little
laundry, buy some
eggs, check the mail, et cetera.

Here's to survival, to never hearing
anyone; here's to the most successful-
ly lonely man in existence, I salute

silently to the Hollywood vanity mirror
recently installed in the bathroom—
while somebody else, who must be

somewhere far away from here
is calling, nearly yelling—good morning! 
you handsome devil.

Friday, February 22, 2019

MEET JOE BLACK

I'd like to come back 
as a stream 

of hot 
coffee—neatly falling 

into a spotless concavity 
of tall white china;

I want everything around me 
to seem invisible 

just for a moment, 
while I glitter 

more reassuringly 
than crystalline 

wine in gold goblets;
for once, I might know 

what it would feel like 
to carry you

over the threshold 
into a new home, in which 

you are always
smart and cozy 

and happy 
and successful—and I

am simply 
brilliant.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

FASTER IT'S ALRIGHT

Little Honda
flying through open
country at some hellish speed,

seeing the blurry steeples poking
small harmless wounds
through the mist in the distance;

I am not on my knees
listening to those
bells ring. I am one last

flickering laugh, I outlast
the flight of mourning
doves;

this engine is
the chorus of
a thousand boy bands singing,

that glint of light
on the road ahead, all that's good
and left

of someone they all
once knew
and loved.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

SWEET NOTHING

In your eyes,
I see—the perfect
slender beach

where you must
be lying
currently—alone,

starving,
stranded—and nowhere
near me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

SUSPICION

On those clearest
cold mornings, there's always
somebody else's
shadow in here with me,

drinking coffee in a perfectly
chintzy Ikea chair 
and gazing out the window at
freshly fallen snow

while I write
by curving
lines of light
those weapons of the enemy;

about a million
miles away from Never Land, I
nonetheless feel
the warm dark's absence,

but I feel this
as a presence. As if—
together, we are neither
body nor mind, but

a third thing.
Separately, of course, we
could never be
described.

Monday, February 18, 2019

NO BONES

don't cross me,
I'm bisexual
and spineless—like the fierce tiger

lily is bisexual,
like the venus
fly trap is spineless—nonetheless

flexed
and ready somehow always,
fixed in the very

same graveyard-
jungle of shade
where I was made

to stay—deep,
quiet, and strange-
ly well protected.

Friday, February 15, 2019

THE OVEREXAMINED LIFE

My mind is a tree, grown slowly
heavy with its
own maturity; its sole

and noble
purpose is—the invention of luscious
redolent fruit;

fruit so huge-
and exquisitely
pregnant with ingenious seeds—that its

only goal
could possibly be
a tree.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

TRAIN OF THOUGHT

Every afternoon,
after a long morning walking
around, thinking about

all the cherished people
and things I'm too afraid to allow
myself to think about now,

I walk back into this house to find
pure sound lying
all over the floor again—

radios spilling over
with their mixture of lean tunes
and marbled static,

blaring furnaces, hissing
water heaters, and sinister fridge compressors
whispering—not to mention

the incessant hollow drip-dropping
of so many ticker-tape
timers, unnerving alarms, chirpy alerts;

every day, I come home to all this
and I swear
I barely even notice it—let alone

consider
approaching anything
differently tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

MEMO

In the park
right now, simple
white snow

is caked up nice
and thick and capably—on a fat
spruce tree's bluish branches;

and that's about
all I know—after I
finally stand up

and look down
at the pale dead thing
splayed on the kitchen table

to consider—just what the
hell it is I
haven't been writing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

HUMAN BEING HUMAN DOING HUMAN GOING

I know I know I know.
I know I still need those same
infantile changes—

the warm
and soft and
wet sort of premonitions—which I fear the most.

But I am not worried
I am not worried
I am not worried—I lie

all night, while I
sleep and
dream of being

born-
again, so buoyant-
and easily—somewhere cool cool cool,

cock-crowing, off
on that pale last star glimmering
in the tender aurora of a new morning

as—the insouciant future
of this miserably
persistent family.

Monday, February 11, 2019

COMPULSORY POEM

Annoying little
pebble in my shoe—
this too

is a kind of nirvana,
born from some
forced and self-

conscious point of view—the way
the hugeness of
what's old gets

slowly—
infiltrated
by the new.

Friday, February 8, 2019

CLOSED BOOK

The story opens this way: my brain—a sleepy
old river town, inundated late last year
by weeks of cold

and sharp pointed rain—
which is still, to this day, flooded
with your memory.

The residents there have just had
to get used to the trench foot, the detours
and the closed stores

the bowed walls of yellow
tubular sandbags—the Sunday dinners
coming from tin cans.

All their backyard victory gardens
are, of course, still under there somewhere
and surely aren't ruined forever, but

nobody's holding their
breath at the moment, because—it's exhausting
enough just having to paddle

around everywhere in these makeshift vessels
on the opaque surface
of the way things were before.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE

So it's dreary out
in the contorted pocket

of the pinball machine
city where you

lurk in the morning—still you can
smell it: the cigarettes

and burnt french
toast sticks—clinging to the grimy air,

wordlessly infiltrating
a dead-pigeon situation:

to careen around, lost in the
maze of creation

is never a waste of time;
it's more—lying

down and staying
put where you are

that could
really cost you bigtime.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

ALMOST

Almost midway
to March again—soon, the
days are breaking faster

while the tightfisted
nights are still
greedy enough with cold

to keep the wounds
from festering—the wounds
which lie

deep in the winter-rough
hollows of our hearts, which
themselves of course

are breaking—at more
or less the same rate
as before.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

REPUDIATION

This frozen far-
flung constellation

of February
breadcrumb flurries:

right here—is the entire
universe

to all
the midwest finches,

who were, perhaps
a little

too damaged—
or else just

too self-
centered—to withdraw.

Monday, February 4, 2019

GETTING UP TO PEE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING

The bankrupt country
of my body,
having survived another long war
of sleep,

in slow to recall
its crumbling navies—across the veins
of dark salty water

and into harbors, where
all the citizens stand, sleepy and stuff
but dutifully
attendant on the shore.

But upon their arrival,
an august parade
is always quick to follow—joyous
and manic, it careens along
the corridors of

the warm dark kitchen—and over
the bathroom's
cold tile floor, to the place
where the fireworks are traditionally scheduled.

Friday, February 1, 2019

POSITIVE CAPABILITY

You tell me—
it's never been colder,
that your malaise

and despair
are climbing higher
and higher, like

pillars of icy fire
consuming the bare tree trunks
in this small municipal park

where once, little children's
cleanhanded voices
would ricochet—like crickets

over that pungent grass
which now lies frozen
in absolute darkness,

obliterated by winter's
onslaught of avalanches.
But listen,

and look—here
and there, at least
there are still finches,

round as planets
and living
in the few stony bushes

which ring its perimeter—
notice
how warm!

they can manage
to keep, just by
cheering one another

on in their
piquant hopping—dare-
devilish and constantly

switching—from branch
to steely,
obdurate branch.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

KATABASIS

Sometimes, the drain
is the only way out.
Sometimes, the last days
offer our best chances—when everything living
swoons and dances
to that music, not which
is prettiest, but which is headed
for the most auspicious ruin.

Even Franz Schubert
might still compose himself better
as a butterfly someday; his newly
reanimated tune: two bright blue-
glowing wings, extending
to catch the comatose
afternoon light—come some balmy
June or July.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

WOMB WEARY

The end looks
like this, I think—
none of that profound fire
and pressure of slow
grinding wheels;

instead, all is white,
and clean with cold,
save those
slight shadows—
the odd arc of gulls

obscuring the light
over the frozen footsteps—
those ghostly rows
and columns of yesterday's intent.
Meanwhile,

our bodies are all trapped
and peering, offended, from inside—
tattered and impoverished
as zombies
whose very sensibilities are starving,

whose every pore is thirsting
for a return
to that warm dark heaven
which must have existed—before
we were born.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

TURN AWAY AND EMBRACE

I know—the face of the earth 
is only an idio-
matic expression

but the place is so vast, I confess
I get scared
to look, let alone

gaze—let alone choose
where I'm going
to stay.

They say, even vandals
are great artists too, in their
own beautiful way

and that we must each
invent our own instruments,
and that it's okay

to just use the verses
to get to
the chorus—but

I confess, in lieu
of songs—I'd sooner make
drowsy non-

linear poems
like this one
when I want to

cultivate a little chaos,
in which
there's no chaste aesthetic

or dramatic
point of view;
it's

just me.
All alone.
With you.

Monday, January 28, 2019

ORDER OF WINTER

In all directions, the blankest
faces—not of death, but
imagination, of old ingenuity

now breathless and perfect-
ly preserved in
fresh ice. And the mute snow—

holding fast and glaring
up at the cloud-shrouded aspect
of some meek and

underfed January sun,
while the wet wind combs
and rakes the accumulation into rows,

and the skinny buildings
of in the distance, groom
and mold that same prodigal wind.

At last, all is clean
and nameless and new—
and visible across the grounds

are only a few
dappled traces—
but absent are the usual

accompanying sounds—
of several million human
beings trying.

Friday, January 25, 2019

FRAME OF REFERENCE

Okay, I confess—for years now, I've
been selfish-
ly keeping my
thoughts to myself

in order to write them
down on paper and pitch them
at you later—as if: mine
were the one true point of view

and a short, well organized poem
was the highest possible
peak you could climb;
the perspective from nowhere,

and as such, the only one
you could trust; the dead center
of the universe—something much
more usefully observed than discussed.

Earlier this morning, for instance,
I carefully reasoned
that today was the perfect
day for sweatpants; then wandered over

and wondered into the bathroom mirror
whether I could ever get away with
an authentic handlebar mustache;
then, in the kitchen, carefully weighed

all my coffee grounds
out to the decigram; and finally—
endeavored to imagine
just what it could look like

if I rearranged all
the furniture in the living room,
before deciding I felt a little too
uninspired to bother.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

HERE'S YOUR PROBLEM

Econoline van, midnight
blue, with a ladder
on the roof and a yellow-
ish hardhat or two on the dash,

how many times? have I
seen your kind double
parked on the clenched-
shouldered avenues of Chicago

and thought—maybe unrequited
love and/or hunger, credit card
debt and lumbar pain don't
always matter; sometimes there's a place

at the end of a very
long and slate-
gray basement corridor, a room
that only one person has the keys to.

Forget about the logistics, and
never mind the weather—one waist,
belted-up tight with the right gear
has waded out this far regardless.

There's a hole in my sock
that's been swallowing me for hours
and my lips are so chapped
they're about to crack open—but

one mouth can confidently disclose
what's most likely
wrong with the washer/dryer,
where the conduit goes,

why the locks froze, how all those
hoses are supposed to hook
up to the furnace.
Somewhere—perfectly at home

within the hopeless folds
of any one of these condos—
is one voice that knows
exactly what it's talking about.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

EPOCH POEM

Only because
it's now been
so long, I'm not even
sure what I should
picture myself
missing anymore.

Most days—
which is to say, specifically
during business hours—
which is to say, most
of the time I'm awake—

the writer in me—
hunched at a table, comforted only
by the aroma of coffee
and by punching
some keys
and seeing the immediate
results on a screen—that person

most sorely laments
a lack
of sonorous diction
and syntax: the
you and me, the
she and I, the
hers and my, and so forth.

In other words—it's not the images
which are missing;
it's the style
and the pattern
of certain, very useful
idiomatic expressions.

It's just later on,
after night falls,
that I tend to finally
knock off

to sleep and dream—
through that hazy poetic halo
of pensive noise
and ruminative distortion
for five or six
or maybe seven seasons
at a stretch

purely about the face
of any
particular person
or place
or thing
or belief
or reason.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

JUST ABOUT AVERAGE

Once, there was this simple
and sweet little toddler, and he
liked to eat honey
all by itself—right out out of the little
bear-shaped jar.

Then, there was his grousing
seventy-year-old grandpa—bushy
brusque Italian, hair
like white feathers, skin like leather
furniture after a fire

who smelled of pungent things
like whiskey and world war
and medicine, and who seemed
to require everything
he ate doused in vinegar.

But at this point
there only seems to be, for better
or worse, me—
seated somewhere
midway in-between them

at the empty rectangular
table in the kitchen, eating
a little rice and broccoli
with some bland breast of chicken
and desperate to point out,

to nobody in particular—that nothing
in the world would be better
than a few healthy spoonfuls
of both
mixed together.

Monday, January 21, 2019

GREAT DEPRESSION

Slamming
shut the blood

red cover—
What's the use

of History? I wonder,
it doesn't

mention
my mother once.

Friday, January 18, 2019

LETTERS FROM A STOIC

Even
though it's
freezing cold, the look

on my face
in the window
of your home—is blank

as a page,
on which
has been written, over

and over again:
it's good to be alone 
it's good to 

be alone it's good 
to be alone it's 
good to be alone—now please won't

you let me
come back
in already.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

ARGUING WITH MAGRITTE

First of all, there's really no such thing
as the temporal significance of anything;
everything's just an accident, a downstream
coincidence of Gregorian circumstance.

And speaking of accidents—images
are not really treacherous; they just get weird-
ly slippery after a while. Let's take her
for example, slowly tripping

up the stairs from a pea-yellow
bedroom in the basement, mumbling
something like happy 
anniversary from the bathroom

an electric toothbrush buzzing in her mouth;
me in the kitchen, probably reciprocating,
me definitely
having some coffee ready.

Now, let's cut to—the sun
eventually lying down, bloody
and exhausted, to warm the earth
somewhat differently for a while.

Suddenly, nourishment is nothing
like what it looks like.
There's so much less to it
than we thought a little bit ago. Now,

it's basically the ambient temperature
on the surface of our skin
which shows us—invisibly
but substantially—how.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

THE SAUSAGE GRINDER

Some days,
it's alright—you
are light,

literally made
of invisible star parts;

but even
then, of course, there's
those hours

slightly less
factitious
in nature—you're a transparent case

full
of mismatched leftovers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

FORGERY

Lumpy coffee
cup—made of clay
and grape

paint and enamel—from the
outside,
you look fake;

but on the inside, just
incredible—vacant, but like
nebulae are vacant,

like time
would look, all
looped and piled up—

like the expression
on the face
of the interstellar water

as it regards, by way
of reflection: an ape
standing straight

up in the morning,
stretching, walking, then
plunking down again—to hammer the bones

of a lyric
poem out
on a smartphone.

Monday, January 14, 2019

FICTIVE MUSIC

     "That music is intensest which proclaims
     The near, the clear, and vaunts the clearest bloom,
     And of all the vigils musing the obscure,
     That apprehends the most which sees and names"

     -Wallace Stevens 

Lying awake
at night, in a room with
no window

just thinking—somewhere
else, the bright
moon is showing

off her halo;
somewhere, the shadows
below tip their

black hats, or else
genuflect—somewhere,
the silence is not nearly

this shallow,
somewhere
or other, it must be still

snowing—
that deep and dream-
silent kind

of snow, those
feathery little piano
arpeggios—falling clean

and clinging,
to the surface of a glass
and steel city

with a much
more beautiful
name—than Chicago.

Friday, January 11, 2019

THE SHAPE OF YOUR CONTAINER

Before you believe what
you're told—
feel your feet

against the ground,
listen far
left, then

right to the sounds,
raise your eyes
and look

for the sky—and realize, you're
being gently
held.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

BAD BREATH

If I wasn't so tired and quiet
and conspicuous-
feeling—all goose pimples
and rumpled underwear,

I might stand and shout
out the chilly bay window—
take it all back!
at the exacting light,


which, with its usual knife-
edged insensitivity,
is presently quizzing
all the neighboring


brick walls, needling
the street beneath, and
splitting the precious hairs of these
blunt stone hours


into cheap and hurried-
feeling moments—like this, each
one a little too sharp for my
taste in the morning.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

LESSER OF TWO EVILS

Pursuant to the new year, a rude
cigarette lying
out on the sidewalk still burning,

its curled gossamer
floss of smoke, the cherry
on top, so elemental

yet conclusive
as the profligate
ribbon on a gift—which

you've done so little
to deserve,
it unnerves you to accept

such an absolute
surge of dry lust, a sudden kindling
of entitlement 

to be—someplace warmer
than this is, at least. And a third
cup of coffee.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

INVOCATION

God save the thin woman
in the longest parka imaginable

bisecting the lowly
wind outside my window;

that spectacularly inflated
little royal fountain

of a Pomeranian-Shih-tzu
gurgling along beside her

likely requires
someone truly special

to clean the interminable
gunk from the

corners of its eyes—
if not the matted

shit from its
jubilant coat—routinely,

without somehow
growing too humble

to keep scheduling
public demonstrations.

Monday, January 7, 2019

LIFE MANUAL

Here you go, son;
here's your very own
loaded gun—

now remember, an eyeball
never stops seeing
what it looks at,
even with its heavy lid blinked;

so be sure to be
careful with
where you choose to point it—

and by careful, I mean steady;
and by steady,
I mean absolutely
certain that you're right;

and by certain, I mean
convinced;

and by right, I mean not
too unhappy.

Friday, January 4, 2019

GETTY ADDRESS

No wonder a few hundred
years—or a thousand
are still
not enough to learn from:

how did she look
when she first heard the news
horse-powered from the border
a few weeks too late?

what was his first thought
when that cold rain which fell earlier
suddenly caught
the light of a blue moon?

History has no
people in it.
Only pictures—and, of course

words—doing things,
following certain
orders.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

CONSIGNED TO THE DUSTBIN

As a puppet is free
because he cannot look up
to see the strings,

as a seer voraciously rereads
and memorizes page 35
in order to predict 36

in a huge holy book
whose conclusion already exists
somewhere around 500—so too

every night, in our dreams
so many unwritten poems
gleam on the knife edges of the horizon

while our shuttered eyes are powerless
to read them. Yet
silent, incorporeal, ghosts move to visit

each of these dark cities
off in the distance,
populated with divorcees and fugitives

and orphan children—
whose histories are long epics,
the lines of which will change slightly

with each new generation, because
they must be sung
in order to be remembered.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

POST-MERIDIAN MAN

Mornings, the guy is basically toothless
and quiet: all black
coffee and no talking, thank you.

By afternoon, though, he's
so through
with contemplating that sermon of serene sky,

and, much like the light in the windows
gradually twisting pallid, then chilly,
and finally cruel, his mouth too starts twisting

toward the shape of the new vulgarian's—one
who's so ruthlessly "past all that"
and who is presently

howling out-loud at the neon heaven glow of
internet television—or else
hunching over to hellishly

wolf down helpless sprats,
all uniformly slashed, preemptively
decapitated, and buried

two tons-deep beneath
the brutish crust of some ancient stone-
ground mustard.